Pailin Chuchottaworn, the president and chief executive of Thailand’s energy flagship, said PTT has unused land in the industrial estate that it would like to use for environmentally and socially friendly purposes.
“Projects undertaken in this zone will involve small and medium-sized enterprises making bioplastics from sugar cane and which are biodegradable,” he said.
Mr Pailin said that, as a leader in bioplastics, Thailand should continue developing the petrochemical industry in this direction.
PTT’s project is part of a joint collaboration with the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) to establish a pilot eco-town industrial project.
Of the total, 400 rai will be allotted for the construction of two new factories.
One will produce 20,000 tonnes of polybutelene succinate (PBS) a year and the other 140,000 tonnes of polylactic acid (PLA).
The two plants will cost a combined US$400 million.
The other 800 rai will be reserved for other downstream or upstream petrochemical plants, depending on market demand.
Construction is expected to begin on 80 rai by year-end for completion in 2014.
The PLA factory will be a joint venture between PTT Global Chemical Plc and the US-based NatureWorks.
IEAT governor Verapong Chaiperm said his agency plans to turn 15 industrial estates into eco-towns in the next five years.
Eleven estates have passed IEAT criteria for eco-towns in the past three years.
Sukrit Surabotsopon, PTT’s senior executive vice-president for petrochemicals and refining, said global demand for PLA increases by 20% annually and will exceed capacity of its US plant in another two or three years.
The company is deciding whether to undertake the venture entirely on its own or in partnership with Purac, a company that already supplies lactic acid to its US plant, he said.
“We’re considering whether to develop in two phases with yearly production capacity of 75,000 tonnes per phase or build the plant all in one go,” Mr Sukrit added.